Senator’s wife in hiding after deportation threat
ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) — State Sen. Curt Thompson has been a
strong advocate of immigration rights, once speaking in Spanish from
the steps of the Georgia Capitol against the adoption of some of the
nation’s strictest immigration controls.
Now Thompson’s Colombian-born wife is in hiding as federal immigration officials try to deport her.
Herrera, 28, has been in hiding since Immigration and Customs
Enforcement officers arrived at her home November 28 with an order to
remove her from the U.S. She was not home at the time.
attorney, Charles Kuck, claims she was duped by a man handling her
immigration requests and that she never received the immigration
notices that triggered her deportation order. While Kuck says neither
he nor her husband know where Herrera is, he said that she will turn
herself in Tuesday.
“It’s the right thing to do. She needs to get the law to work for her,” Kuck said.
filed a petition Monday to halt her deportation order and reopen her
case, arguing that a man filed an asylum petition on her behalf without
her knowledge and before her husband sponsored her green card
application based on their April marriage.
The deportation order
stems from Herrera’s repeated failure to appear before a judge on the
asylum application, which Kuck said she did not know had been filed.
case hinges on whether Herrera received a notice to appear in court,
and whether the asylum application could have been filed without her
knowledge, said Victor Cerda, former general counsel for Immigration
and Customs Enforcement.
According to Kuck, Herrera came to the
U.S. — where her parents have been living — on a visitor visa in
2003. She applied for an extension to the visa through a “notario” — a
man who claimed he was qualified to handle legal immigration matters —
but did not get it until 20 days before the extension was due to expire.
notario then suggested an asylum application, which Herrera signed, but
she got a “bad vibe” from the man and decided not to proceed, Kuck said.
in 2004, she was accepted as a student at Kennesaw State University,
which earned her a student visa. She then told the notario she did not
want anything to do with him.
She met Thompson last year and they
got married in April, when he applied for her to become a permanent
resident. Kuck said Herrera’s husband, a Democrat and attorney, would
not comment on the case.
But in the meantime, the notario filed
the asylum application, listing his address as hers. A telephone number
listed for the notario, identified as Tomas Vilela, was being answered
Monday by a fax machine.
Cerda said the deportation order in the
asylum case would trump any pending green card application and trigger
Her decision to hide could hurt her request
for a judge’s stay on deportation, Cerda said. If she turns herself in,
she could remain in the U.S. while her petition is pending, either in
jail or released on bond.